Containers at Port of Rotterdam. Photo credit: Alf van Beem

Port of Rotterdam makes step towards recovery

The port of Rotterdam has handled 115.8 million tonnes of freight in the first quarter of this year, a 3 per cent increase over the same period last year. This is a new step in its recovery from the decrease in throughput in 2020 as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the port of Rottherdam stated.

The port’s terminals handled a substantially higher number of containers (4.5 per cent). Moreover, the most pronounced increase could be observed in the volumes of biomass (36.7 per cent), coal (25.2 per cent) and mineral oil products (19.7 per cent) put through Rotterdam. Volumes declined in the segments LNG (26.8 per cent), agribulk (8.6 per cent) and other liquid bulk (-2.8 per cent).

Empty containers

Noteworthy is that the number of containers increased, although the weight of container volumes declined. Calculated on the basis of TEUs, container throughput rose by 4.5 per cent, which can be explaned by a stronger demand for consumer goods.

However, measured in tonnes, container throughput actually showed a modest decline of 0.7 per cent. This can be explained to an extent by on the one hand, an increase in the number of empty containers, and on the other hand, by a lower average weight per loaded unit.

Empty containers are in large quantities ‘stuck’ in Europe, as there is a grave imbalance in the volumes going from China to Europe (the majority) and vica versa. China is currently facing a shortage of empty containers.

Aftermath of Suez Canal blockage

Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority commented: “Generally speaking, the increased throughput volume in the first quarter paints a positive picture. Nevertheless, these remain turbulent times for companies working in trade and logistics.

“At this point, the main challenge we are set before is handling the aftermath of the Suez blockage in terms of logistics. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is doing its utmost to support its clients – among other things by offering real-time surveys of ETAs at all the port’s deep sea terminals.”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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